The Shumlin administration has hand-picked two Vermont reporters to tag along: Vermont Public Radio's Kirk Carapezza and the Burlington Free Press' Terri Hallenbeck.
Both news outlets say their participation in the trip is tentative, pending confirmation of financial arrangements with the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation — a business group that favors basing the F-35 in South Burlington and which is sponsoring the trip to Eglin Air Force Base.
"I will be curious to see and hear them," Hallenbeck says. "But I go into it knowing that I won't necessarily be able to discern which one was louder and whether that means they'll be louder every day in the same place. I go conscious that [Shumlin] is being taken by people who are for this and really, really want it — and really want to convince people that this is a good thing."
VPR news director Ross Sneyd says he believes there's news value in sending Carapezza to record the takeoff and landing of the planes — but also to provide context about what the politicians experience during the trip.
"It's like any other story we'd report. We have to have a reporter there who can give context," he says.
Sneyd says VPR is in discussions with GBIC about how the station can pay for Carapezza's airfare. He compared the situation to modern presidential campaigns, during which reporters often travel on airplanes chartered by politicians. In such cases, news organizations typically reimburse campaigns for the price of commercial airfare from point A to point B.
"If it doesn't cost us too many of our listener dollars, he'll go," Sneyd says.
Hallenbeck says the Freeps is making similar considerations.
She and Carapezza certainly weren't the only ones hoping to tag along. Shumlin's office says that after the governor announced the trip during his weekly press conference Thursday, nearly every reporter in the room called or emailed asking to come along.
Disclosure: I was definitely one of them! Heck, I begged and pleaded to go — and I'm totes jealous of Hallenbeck's and Carapezza's Florida vay-cay. Alas, Shumlin offered a clue during the presser as to why I wasn't invited along.
"I just want to start by letting you know that anyone who made too much noise in the woods hunting isn't likely to be on the airplane," he said.